Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

Cape Cod

Sunday musings 10/20/13

Sigh. Like clockwork another Groundhog Day around the CrossFit world. Just like the “CrossFit is dangerous” silliness a couple of weeks ago we have the return of “there are too many Boxes” and “there should be more control of Boxes by HQ” and “it’s too easy to become a CF L1 trainer”, etc. Meh. There must be some growth threshold, some number by which the Affiliates have grown that ignites this particular brushfire because it cycles in and out of flame.

When these sentiments come from outside the CrossFit world they are almost always spoken by folks who have little or no real knowledge of anything CrossFit, often by people who stand to lose a great deal of something or other if CF continues to grow. Whatever. We as CrossFitters pick and choose whether and how to respond to the outsiders however we might, and HQ unleashes Legal and “the Russes” on any who are particularly wrong-headed or mean-spirited. I watch that stuff like I watch sit-coms, feet propped up and beer ice cold.

No, what is on my mind at the moment is the cyclic re-emergence of these sentiments from within the CrossFit community itself, most often from the second or third wave of Affiliates who have forgotten what it was like when they were new, but just as often from the newest initiates who find success quickly.  The very first wave of Box owners could almost all trace their lineage directly back to CF Santa Cruz, but even they had diverse backgrounds that were often quite far afield from fitness. Teachers, coaches, cops and retired military. Bakers, electricians and artists. Almost none of them had any letters after their names, and many of them opened a Box within a year of discovering CrossFit.

And now it should be different how? Why?

Here’s what’s different and here’s why: there are lots and lots of CrossFit gyms now, and sometimes potential members have a choice of gyms. You’re a CF trainer, and now you’ve got to prove your chops. Your micro-community will be different from the Box down the road and people will figure that out. Got a bias in your programming, or a particular “flavor” to your WOD’s? Ditto. Once upon a time almost everyone started out with their programming coming directly from CrossFit.com, at least until they figured out their own style. Think you’ve got a better version of CrossFit to offer your members? Good on ya. It had better be rockin’ ¬†though, because that Box down the street is running Main Page programming and they are littering Facebook with tales of PR’s and “firsts”.

As I watch from both very close up (Lil’bingo is still the youngest Affiliate owner in North America I believe) and very far there appear to be two substantial differences between the first 1000 or so Affiliates and the last 2500 or so: newer gyms are often owned by trainers with very little CrossFit “mileage”, and newer gyms are owned and populated by folks who spend very little time on CrossFit.com. There is a more tenuous tie across the CrossFit universe because of this. While we still have CrossFit training in common we no longer have the shared “home” of CrossFit.com, the comments section, the Message Board, and the CrossFit Journal because the majority of Box members (and apparently Owner-Trainers) no longer congregate or even visit CrossFit.com.

This has spawned behavior that saddens me. Sniping between Box owners. Whisper campaigns spreading mostly falsehoods in order to sabotage a neighboring gym. Baseless criticism of another owner or trainer, tearing down another trainer in order to appear to elevate yourself. Innuendo that masquerades as fact. All manner of “Mean Girl” stuff perpetrated by people who should know better.

It’s gotta stop. Like, right now.

With so many people out there looking into your business from the outside, trying to storm the walls of our CrossFit castle, the internal intrigue needs to be done. Seriously. Got a problem with your neighboring Box? Man up and and have it out. Don’t hide behind some mealy-mouthed Facebook insinuation. Grow some stones and put it out there, stand up and stand behind it. Was it really so long ago that Coach Glassman himself stood up with flamethrower in hand and napalmed the people whispering about him and CrossFit that you don’t know what it really means to stand up and speak your piece? No one wondered how Coach felt about his competitors, and for sure no one within the early CrossFit community was unsure of where he stood.

Far be it from me to tell the good folks at CrossFit HQ how to run this enterprise, but if asked I’d add a couple of pretty simple rules to the Affiliate agreement: Don’t injure your members, and don’t be a weasel. Ask for help from anyone–HQ, OG’s, anyone–on the former, and expect to be called out into the searing bright light of day on the latter.

For whatever it’s worth that’s pretty much all we should be hearing out in our community, too.

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